Monday, September 29, 2014

The Benchmark of 5 Years

In my first iteration of student missions, five years seemed to be a significant milestone. After five years, leaders had emerged from students, some significant things became important in our culture and it seemed like momentum had multiplied.

Ember is at that same five year milestone around now and there seem to be a lot of the same indicators. I'm excited about the past few years of students that have gone on to university and are leading and forging new and exciting initiatives and opportunities. We have some momentum that didn't take pulling teeth to capture.

Let me implore you - if you work with the emerging generation, recognize that five years is a significant milestone. Work hard at it for five years and then take a look. What you see might surprise and delight you.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Burn

::: The One Phrase You Should Not Use After You Return from Africa
"They are poor but everyone seemed so happy."

::: Developing a Sending Student Ministry
Give Us Two Years... We challenge all of our students to give two years of their lives to the mission of God somewhere strategic.

::: 13 Little Known Facts About Change That Too Many Leaders Miss
9. Buy-in happens most fully when people understand why, rather than what or how.
12. Transformation happens when the change in question becomes part of the culture.
13. The greatest enemy of your future success is your current success.

::: The Time I Tried to Figure Out How Teenagers Use Twitter

::: Consider this...Many tribal cultures don't have a word for "boredom" - @DavidLivermore

Photo: Bandol, France, July 2014.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Notes - The Happiness of Pursuit

I loved this book from Chris Guillebeau and just like his two previous books [The Art of Nonconformity and The $100 Startup] it's filled with fun stories, great personalities and the sense that life is an adventure to be lived.

In this book, Chris unpacks the idea of a quest and gives us some compelling examples of people that have pursued something quests: something with a clear goal and a specific endpoint, a clear challenge, sacrifice of some kind, a sense of calling or mission and something that requires a series of steps. Along with telling us about quests, he inspires us by visiting the big ideas as adventure, personal vision, risk, courage and personal growth.

Probably my favorite part of the book talks about what happens when people are done with their quests - they gain independence and confidence, they mature, their vision seems to grow, and they are empowered for more. I've seen this first hand as the organization I work with has tried to send as many young people as we can on some kind of quest or adventure. Time and time again, those experiences have helped grow people along the lines that Chris has outlined.

Here are a few more quotes I loved from the book:
Discontent is the first necessity of progress. - Thomas Edison
He had decided to live forever, or die in attempt. - Joseph Heller
The most courageous act is to think for yourself. Aloud. - Coco Chanel
When you've given everything you have in pursuit of something great, it's hard to toss off a few quick sentences on "what it's like."
Why pursue a quest? Because each of us in our lives is writing our own story, and we only have one chance to get it right.

The Happiness of Pursuit is a great read and even though all of us could probably stand to read about more adventure in our life, this might be the motivation to get you to actually take the first step.

Disclosure - I was provided a copy of this book for free.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

2013 and 2014 Summer Improvements

Like every year, we spend some time at the end of the summer looking to improve on what we did. Here are some items from both last summer and this summer:

+ We got better about bringing on leaders. John, Tess, Hope and Measu did a phenomenal job. We would require future potential leaders that we don't know very well to engage on an Ember day experience with us before we open up slots for summer teams, although haven't had to do this recently.

+ We needed one person to really help us pray these teams up. John did this for us this summer and it was beautiful. Ultimately, this comes down to a staffing decision, like recruiting for any other skill or talent.

+ Our travel agent, Valarie, was great. We flew British Airways with their nonprofit perk. Required a group of 9 or more.

+ It was tough to balance all the work that needs to get done for Kids Week and making sure our team is well fed and getting the Ember essentials in. Our team seemed to be more relaxed when we planned for Deanna to take care of most of the food instead of rotating team members in for that.

+ Of course I love our approach to funding with the Creative Revenue Plan. Although 10-25% of support is raised via creative revenue, we may need to be clearer about what makes up the rest - ie: do you pay for it yourself or raise support or is it case by case.

+ No body modifications and no riding motorcycles or scooters if you are under 21. [Ember spawn…]

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hello SeptEmber

It is entirely possible that one of these SeptEmbers, I actually won't return from a sabbatical. But not this year - I'm thrilled to be back and super excited about what the next season for The Ember Cast holds. True to form, we've had some exciting opportunities pop up since I've been away and like every year, I'm sure these will be some very catalytic and unique encounters for our ProtoGuides.

If you are bivocational [and some of you reading this may not think you are, but you are] you should strongly consider a season every year where you take an extended break from your second vocation. It will free up your mind to do some evaluation and to think creatively again, it will give your pace of life a break by allowing you to say no easily and it will revive passion for whatever your second gig is.

Welcome to SeptEmber.